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With more applications than ever, Harvard admits a slightly more diverse class

Harvard Hall in Harvard Yard.
Harvard Hall in Harvard Yard.Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe/File 2020

After a record number of applications forced Harvard University to delay admissions decisions, the college on Tuesday announced that it had admitted 1,968 first year students to its class of 2025.

The prospective incoming class is more diverse than last year. It includes more Black and Asian American students, a small uptick in Latino students, a larger share of students from abroad, and slightly more low-income students.

Just over 60 percent of offers went to students of color this year, compared to 54 percent last year.

“We were delighted to see the diversity and strength in this year’s application pool, particularly in a year where no one could predict how it would change,” said William Fitzsimmons, the college’s dean of admissions and financial aid, said in an internal publication.

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Like many colleges, Harvard did not require students to submit SAT and ACT standardized test scores due to the pandemic. Across the country, experts believe that the change likely encouraged more high school seniors to apply to selective colleges. Many of the country’s most competitive schools have reported increases in applications this year.

Most universities notified students of their admissions decisions in March. Ivy League schools sent notifications on Tuesday.

Harvard received a record high 57,435 applications this year, far in excess of last year’s 40,250 applications. Decisions were delayed by about a week to give admissions officials more time to review the submissions.

Of the admitted students, more than 27 percent are Asian Americans (up from 24.5 percent in 2020) and 18 percent are Black (up from nearly 15 percent in 2020). Harvard admitted slightly more Latino students, 13.3 percent, up from 12.7 percent in 2020. The share of students of who identified as Native Americans fell by 1 percent point to 1.2 percent.

Students from US territories or overseas increased to 14.5 percent this year, up from 12 percent last year.

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One in 5 of the admitted students qualified for federal Pell grants, a marker for poverty, according to Harvard.

The increasing diversity of Harvard’s admitted class comes at a time when the number of white high school graduates nationwide is decreasing, while those who identify as Hispanic, Asian American, and two or more races is on an upswing.

Harvard is planning for a full return to campus this fall. But university officials said they expect some space challenges. Many first year students took a gap year and deferred admissions rather than participate in remote classes due to the pandemic.


Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.